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“It starts with the medical staff on the sideline. They advise you if a player is able to go back in. If they say, `Yea,’ you put him back in. If he can play, you keep him on the field.”

Players don’t ever want to come out, and Dungy says some will even try to hide medical problems. Or at least minimize them.

San Francisco tight end Vernon Davis suffered a concussion on Dec. 23 at Seattle and returned to play in the season finale against Arizona. He admits to being a little “woozy” during his limited reps, but insists sitting should not have been the first option.

“You trust the player. A player knows his body better than anyone,” Davis said. “If he’s feeling a certain way, then I don’t think you can go against that. He knows he can play.”

But he could be placing himself in greater jeopardy, whether in the short term or for his entire career. For every Adrian Peterson and Jamaal Charles who makes a stunningly quick recovery, there are dozens of players who are never the same.

Some don’t even get back in uniform again.

Or they come back too quickly, as Griffin’s teammate, cornerback DeAngelo Hall, did in 2010.

Hall missed practice leading up to a game against the Colts. Usually, Shanahan bars players from suiting up when that happens, but Hall was allowed to play.

“I gave up a couple of touchdown passes,” Hall said. “And Mike was just like, `That’s my fault, you shouldn’t have been out there. I respect you wanted to be out there, but I could tell you just couldn’t go.’

“You always want to be out there. It’s nothing against the guys behind you, but just that competitiveness in you. You want to compete, you want to be a part of it, especially this run we’ve had.

“Man, it would have been hard for that guy (RG3) to say, `Nah, coach I can’t go’ or `pull me.’ Everything was going so special, he wanted to be a part of it.”

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AP Sports Writers Janie McCauley and Joseph White contributed to this report.

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